Pronunciations 04 - The Letter G
The letter G is the seventh letter of the English alphabet and is a consonant. The letter lends interesting possibilities in pronunciation and spellings. G is normally associated with two sounds, as represented by the words GIRL and the word GIANT. The G in GIRL is a sound referred to as the ‘hard’ sound and the G in GIANT is referred to as a ‘soft’ sound, similar to the letter J.
It is commonly understood that the letters G and C behave similarly in pronunciation, but there are too many exceptions! The letter G is fairly complicated and does not lend to rules easily. Just look at some words which use the letter G:
While THOUGHT and THOUGH have just one letter that separates them, their pronunciations are quite different. THOUGH is pronounced as THOW and THROUGH is pronounced as THREW, a single letter changes the pronunciation.
Similarly in the case of COUGH and DOUGH, just by replacing C with D the pronunciation changes drastically. COUGH is pronounced as COFF whilst DOUGH is pronounced as DOW
However, by and large when the letter G is followed by an A the sound is generally a hard G , as in GATE or GAPE.
When the letter G is followed by an E the sound is a soft G (or J) as in GERM or MERGE).
When the letter G is followed by O the sound is generally a hard G - GOT and EGO.
When the letter G is followed by U the sound is also generally a hard G, as in GUT or ARGUE.
When the letter G is followed by a Y the sound is generally a soft G (J) - GYM or BIOLOGY.
There are many words with a letter G followed by an I that use the hard and soft G sounds. For example, GIRL, BEGIN, GIANT and LOGIC use a hard G but GINGER and GIN use a soft G.
Words ending with GE generally use a soft G sound - BINGE, SINGE and GERM.
Words ending with NG are generally with the hard G sound, as in SING or RANG.
When G is used with M, N or H it is usually silent, for example DIAPHRAGM, GNOME and THROUGH.
Now that you've read such a long list of rules you'll be better able to play the quiz that follows. In it you will learn all about the fascinating letter G and its various pronunciations.